Brandon’s column: Sports media should leave the drama to TMZ

If you keep up with the National Football League in any capacity, then between the annual preseason speculation and yet another player kneeling for the national anthem, you’ve probably found the news of Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott sandwiched somewhere in-between. For those who don’t shoulder the optional stress of following sports, the 22-year-old Dallas Cowboys running back has been suspended for the first six games of the 2017 season. The suspension follows a yearlong investigation into an incident that occurred at Ohio State University, Elliott’s alma mater, in which a former girlfriend accused Elliott of domestic violence. The ruling has been seen as controversial and has created strife between the NFL and the NFL Players Association due to the fact that the charges against Elliott have been dropped and no legal action was taken. According to ESPN Staff Writer Todd Archer, the NFL does not need formal legal charges to punish a player. As with any controversy, or literally anything that happens in America anymore for that matter, people are clogging social media both in defense and in opposition to the ruling and feeling obligated to share a wide array of opinions that inevitably lead to further debate on the issue. I’ve hated the Dallas Cowboys and its abomination of a program for so long that I can put it on my resume; so if I’m being honest, I’m not losing any sleep over this (quite frankly, I wish one of those six games could have been when “America’s Team” has to play my Falcons, not that Elliott would have made a difference of course). However, when dealing with a case such as this, it is important to set your biases aside and come to a fair conclusion. It’s no secret that the National Football League is not the best judge of character, and a blind eye has been turned to degenerates in favor of a couple more stacks of cash for years now. Furthermore, if the accusations against Elliott are true, then it goes without saying he deserves much more punishment than he is getting and would have no sympathy from me. At the same time, however, much of this case is shrouded in uncertainty. Unlike the Ray Rice case, no damning video evidence exists at this time, and the reason for the charges being dropped is reportedly due to “conflicting and inconsistent” allegations, implying that the victim’s testimony is faulty and giving credence to the claims that Roger Goodell and the NFL overstepped their bounds with disciplining Elliott. After all, one of the benefits of the American justice system is the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.” I’m sorry to disappoint you if you read this to learn what side I’m on. I’m not here to pour more gasoline on a fire that’s already out of control; I’m here to talk about the forest that has already been burned. What I’m getting at with all of this is the Ezekial Elliott controversy is the latest failure of nationwide mainstream sports media. I’m definitely not one of those people who cry about “mainstream media” whenever they see something on TV they don’t like (if I had a problem with media, I’d have no college degree and be unemployed). But I’ve always been under the impression the purpose of having sports media is to talk about, well, sports. Instead, we have a quagmire of corporately-owned shills who politicize and romanticize every bit of bad news and then relentlessly work to turn a profit on it. In a perfect world, I’d like to come home from work and only hear about Elliott’s suspension on SportsCenter for about a minute or so. Excluding repeating the news a few more times throughout the day for new viewers as well as breaking news updates regarding the issue, I wouldn’t have to hear about it in any greater capacity than that. What I get instead is a bunch of uneducated clowns like Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman proceeding to create staged and downright dishonest arguments about it for nothing more than the sake of arguing. I mean, I understand why they do it. For whatever reason, we here in America seem to think a celebrity’s opinion is worth twice what a normal person’s is, and that loud, boisterous debates on national television attracts ratings; but it still does not justify the fact that honest sports media focusing on things that actually matter have been cast aside in favor of what is essentially the sports version of TMZ. Far be it from me to say a domestic violence case isn’t important – it very much is, especially once we get to the bottom of things. But the reality is that you, the viewer, reader or listener, have absolutely no power to affect the outcome of this controversy. Whether you like it or not, you’re just an average Joe. With this in mind, ask yourself why the media would continue to peddle the same story several times a day with unnecessary added commentary or completely arbitrary debates to an audience that, even if you somehow changed their minds on the issue, will not have their lives affected by these events in any way whatsoever? It is entirely possible that I’m just being a downer. As I said before, if I hated media, then I wouldn’t have spent all this time and money making a career out of it; but still, my feelings on mainstream sports media could just be a result of my growing apathy for it. I don’t think this is the case though. I really believe that there is a growing problem in sports media today, and I believe it has been allowed to continue unchecked for years. ESPN and other sports media networks no longer create sports media for sports fans. They instead emphasize the drama and the gossip surrounding athletes, coaches, administrators and others and, and if we’re lucky, we might get a few minutes to discuss stats, trade moves, strengths and weaknesses of teams, or anything else relating to the sport in question that actually matters. Sports media needs to stop trying to force-feed its audience with every little detail of the Elliott case and instead talk about the aspects of this situation that actually pertain to football: Who will take his place? Are they good enough? Can Dak Prescott still be effective without all his weapons? Those are actually important questions, not whether or not I should still grab Elliott for my fantasy team. Sports journalism is the path I chose in life, and it is a choice I intend to stick with for many years, but I will never stoop low enough to become the TMZ-esque filth that is ruining the love of sports that people all across the nation have. Elliott is preparing to appeal the NFL’s decision to suspend him for six games, so perhaps when the appeal is either approved or denied, we’ll finally have a conclusion to this debacle and, much more importantly, we’ll know the truth about Elliott’s charges. Until then, expect the same uneducated talking suits to keep milking this cow for as long as possible and lining the pockets of the corporate shills that pull their strings until the next big controversy breaks out. And then maybe, MAYBE we can talk some football.

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